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La. Supt. John White Fabricates Three Years of Teaching into Five: View His Ed Leader Cert Application

April 12, 2017

On April 11, 2017, I wrote a post about Louisiana state superintendent John White’s certifying himself as an educational leader.

  John White

Louisiana has three levels of ed leader certification. Ed Leader 1 requires no teaching experience. Ed Leader 2 requires three years of teaching experience in the applicant’s area of certification.

And Ed Leader 3 requires five years of teaching experience in the applicant’s area of certification.

Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) member James Garvey signed off on all three of White’s ed leader certifications.

White does not have the five years of teaching experience in his area of certification.

White has three years of teaching experience.

In my first post, I relied on a 2011 interview that White gave for EdNext to support his having only three years of teaching experience.

Fortunately, in this post, I am able to provide support from White’s application for Louisiana ed leader certification. (My thanks to my colleague Lee Barrios for her public records request of this info.)

According to Louisiana law (Bulletin 746), the following criteria must be met in order for a person to be granted ed leader 3 status, a certification that allows the possessor to become a district superintendent or assistant superintendent in Louisiana:

§ 708. Educational Leader Certificate Level 3 (EDL 3) [Formerly §709]

A. This certificate is required in order to serve as a school system superintendent or assistant superintendent.

  1. Eligibility requirements:

a. valid EDL 2 or one of the Louisiana administrative/supervisory certifications that preceded the educational leadership certification structure;

b. five years of teaching experience in his/her area of certification;

c. five years of successful administrative or management experience in education at the level of assistant principal or above. The assistant principal experience would be limited to a maximum of two years of experience in that position; and

d. passing score on the school superintendent assessment (SSA), in keeping with state requirements.

Note that the five years of teaching experience is just that– teaching experience– and that it is to be in the applicant’s area of certification.

Included with White’s application is the following letter from the Jersey City Public Schools:

December 10, 2015

To Whom It May Concern:

Please be advised that Mr. John White was employed with the Jersey City School District as a certified English Teacher from September 1, 1999 to June 30, 2002.

Please feel free to contact me for any further information at (201) 915-6362.


Tracey A. Stone

Clerk2/Human Resources

To support the idea that White’s three years with Jersey City Schools were in White’s area of certification, his application also includes the following January 26, 2016, email from director of the New Jersey Department of Education Robert Higgins to Vicky Thomas at LDOE:

Mr. John C. White, DOB: XXXXXX and SSN: XXX-XX-XXXX received his NJ Standard (Permanent) Certificate as a Teacher of English in September, 2000 after completing his pedagogical work at the St. Peter’s College Regional Training Center in Kearney, NJ. His provisional (induction) period was served prior to that date in the Jersey City School district, where he also taught when he received the Standard.

Note that we only date our certificates to the month and year, not to the day.


Bob H.

Of course, if one wanted to be technical, White only has two years of teaching experience in his area of certification because for 1999-2000, he appears to not be considered as certified by the New Jersey Department of Education. But let’s just let that go and five him the full three years of teaching experience in his area of certification: English.

English in New Jersey.

White was certified to teach English in New Jersey, and he did so for three years. Not five. Three.

As part of his Louisiana ed leader application, White offers no additional evidence of either teaching experience or of certification, either in New Jersey or any other state.

But that does not mean he didn’t try to fabricate an additional two years.

Here is how White tried to falsify five years of teaching experience:

First of all, he listed his three years in New Jersey (1999-2002) at William L. Dickson High School in Jersey City, NJ. The application has a box to check to identify the school as either “public school” or “private school.” White checked “public school.”

Next, he laid low and recorded his time in New Jersey with Teach for America (TFA) as “teacher coach and mentor.” Under “name of school,” he listed “Teach for America,” but he (rightly) did not check a box for either “public school” or “private school.” He also did not identify himself as a TFA executive director. And where he wrote the date, it looks like he began to write “2002-2004” and changed his mind and wrote “2002-2007.”

But there is one more line, and that one should have read, “Chicago, Illinois, TFA executive director.”

Instead, White wrote “Chicago Public Schools” under “name of school,” checked the “public school” box (which gives the shady impression that he taught public school in Chicago) and listed his position as “teacher coach and mentor” from 2004-2006.

It is a lame effort to try to fake two more years of teaching experience, but it was apparently the best lie White had at hand.

A number of problems with this lie:

  • White holds no Illinois teaching certificate.
  • White was never an employee of Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
  • White never taught in a Chicago public school.
  • White holds no certification as a “teacher mentor.”
  • “Teacher mentor” does not constitute teaching experience.
  • White includes with this application a letter dated December 09, 2015, verifying that from 2002 to 2007, he was employed by TFA as “Executive Director of our Chicago Region” at an annual salary of $126,499.92. So, any “teacher mentoring” in Chicago was in his role as TFA employee, not as a CPS employee.

On the same page as the above info, no one signed the oath verifying the accuracy of White’s info. The signature is supposed to be that of superintendent or human resources director.

White did sign below it as the applicant.

  Click image to enlarge

Despite the flimsiness of this I-kind-of-taught-in-Chicago lie, on June 08, 2016, LDOE certification specialist Regina Poole signed off on the ed leader 3 “Requirements” checklist, which includes “yes” for “have five years of teaching experience in his/her area of certification.”

  Click image to enlarge

And BESE member James Garvey approved White’s falsified ed leader 3 certification.

  Click image to enlarge


Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. One cannot make this stuff up. And he is not the only one of the school reform leaders with virtually no experience or relevant higher level training (say Phd), for these positions of leadership. Long time ago the Barbarians took over a Rome that had never been Rome…

    • You can say THAT again Jose! No experience or relevant higher level training in education like Michelle Rhee, Bill Gates, Jeb Bush, Betsy DeVos – the list is endless yet these are the people leading our states and government institutions right now. Absolutely sickening. Talk about fake news – now we have fake people.

  2. Classic case of painting oneself in a corner.

  3. What are the requirements for being appointed Lousisiana State Superintendent — White’s current job? The same or more than the requirements of five years of teaching experienc for a district superintendency?

    • Governor usually recommends whomever he/she pleases. No requirements otherwise. Pastorek (who preceded White) is an attorney.

      • Same here in FloriDUH. Our Commissioner of Education is appointed by the Governor. Last year a bill was filed in the senate to make the Commissioner of Education an ELECTED position since that person oversees PUBLIC schools and we pay real estate taxes so we have some skin in the game. But as expected …….the bill was shot down while they were still building the Common Core State Standards & Testing plane in the air.

  4. WOW WOW WOW!!!! This is just another piece of the education proliferation network of getting the “right” people into position. Did the LA budget also include $100 MILLION (or somewhere around that figure) to charter schools like they did in FL, DE and CT so far?

  5. EXCELLENT article Mercedes!!! I sure hope this gets picked up by mainstream but then again – when you OWN the mainstream media…….you can publish or air whatever you want your sheople to believe.

  6. Amy Lafont, Attorney at Law permalink

    After a detailed examination of the claims made by the Bayou Brief in their attempt to discredit and diminish this issue and Dr. Mercedes Schneider, I have determined that their assertions are without legal or factual bases.

    For the public record, I was in no way solicited by anyone to get involved in this discussion. As an attorney I felt obliged to step in, where I saw an attempted political hit masquerading as legal analysis. Something is not legal analysis just because someone says it is, any more than White’s teaching experience existed just because he says it did. I am familiar with both the Bayou Brief and Dr. Schneider as a regular reader and as long-term colleagues in advocacy. I read the BB’s initial post with interest, to see what they could contribute, fact-wise, to answering the questions Dr. Schneider has raised. I was disappointed by the lack of facts and disparaging tone of the BB post, so I asked the “Editorial Board” to provide the factual and legal bases for each of their conclusions. They responded with a great deal of flippant attitude, shifting reasoning, and hubris. Instead of addressing my questions in a forthcoming manner, they ultimately deleted my comments and blocked me from further posting on their facebook site.

    The substance of BB’s post challenging Schneider’s (and a great many others’) conclusions is stated as follows:

    “In our judgment, none of these allegations are true, and they are based on a (i) fundamental misapprehension of the law, (ii) a creative interpretation of the requisite qualifications for certification (in which only teaching experience in a public school is sufficient), and (iii) a misunderstanding about the ways in which states grant reciprocity to teachers certified elsewhere.” (numeration added.)

    Over a series of facebook comments, I attempted to draw out of BB their rationale behind each of the three conclusions above. After much back and forth, I am satisfied that there is no credible evidence in the possession of The Bayou Brief that undermines Dr. Schneider’s conclusions.


    BB: “(i) fundamental misapprehension of the law”

    BB has not shown how the law is misapprehended. When asked piece by piece which sections of law they felt were misapprehended, only one hypothetical was given. This comment by BB hypothesized that something like after-school SAT tutoring would have qualified as “years of teaching experience in an area of certification.” They argued that the language of the requirement was so vague as to permit interpretation that way, without offering any legal justification or support whatsoever for that interpretation, except that ‘the courts would defer to BESE.’ Perhaps the BB misunderstands how our three branches of government work in check and balance of each other. BB should readily state where their interpretation is supported in existing law.

    If BB wants to publish an article stating that Dr. Schneider fundamentally misapprehends the law, they should be able to say precisely how. Instead, she has cited the section precisely:

    § 708. Educational Leader Certificate Level 3 (EDL 3) [Formerly §709]
    A. This certificate is required in order to serve as a school system superintendent or assistant superintendent.
    1. Eligibility requirements:

    b. five years of teaching experience in his/her area of certification;

    BB now asserts that the language above means other than its plain meaning, and that it should be interpreted to include such things as after-school SAT tutoring, without providing any justification for that interpretation. And yet they assert that we are wrong to understand it to mean full-time classroom teaching, again, without citation or explanation. This argument fails.

    BB: “(ii) a creative interpretation of the requisite qualifications for certification (in which only teaching experience in a public school is sufficient)”

    Here BB argues that the issue with the certification requirements pertains to the question of public/private. After being challenged, BB asserted that the misunderstanding was that “one does not need successive, public school experience in order to obtain the certification.” This is a diversionary or simply incorrect argument. Dr. Schneider did not say that there were two years of experience that did not qualify because John White taught either non-successively or at a non-public school. She said the years never existed.

    Among other materials, she posted Mr. White’s Louisiana leadership certification applications, which include an employment verification letter on TFA letterhead, which states:

    “John was employed by Teach For America from July 1st of 2002 through February 4th of 2007. During that time he held the title of Executive Director of our Chicago Region. He earned a yearly salary of $126,499.92.”

    The Bayou Brief parrots White’s assertion that this same period of employment should somehow also qualify him for two years towards his “five years teaching experience in an area of certification,” because his spokesperson says so. Like White, the BB declines to provide any documentation whatsoever in support of their demand that we give these terms other than their plain meanings.

    They never disproved Dr. Schneider’s assertion, nor did they ever demonstrate how Dr. Schneider was factually or legally incorrect in her interpretation of the qualifications for the challenged leadership certifications.

    BB: “(iii) a misunderstanding about the ways in which states grant reciprocity to teachers certified elsewhere.”

    This statement implies that the Bayou Brief believes that John White was in compliance with reciprocity rules.

    However, demonstrated in detail, through communications with relevant Illinois professionals and related licensure materials, that John White could not have taught in an area of certification in Illinois without formally converting his NJ certificate to IL. Bayou Brief does not claim that White secured an IL certificate. They claim that the rules do not require that the certificate be issued from the same state wherein the teaching occurred. This indicates a misunderstanding on the part of Bayou Brief, not Dr. Schneider. Dr. Schneider set the processes and requirements forth correctly.

    Further, and egregiously, Bayou Brief cannot show that John White ever even sought reciprocity, or had an Illinois teaching certification at the time he was supposed to be earning his “years of experience teaching in an area of certification” in Chicago.

    Inter alia, Bayou Brief argued that White’s “Certification didn’t expire”, “He has been certified in English since at least 1999”, and that he would have been able to teach in an area of certification in Illinois with an un-transferred New Jersey certificate. These claims were disputed and unresolved.

    Over the course of our discussion, Bayou Brief ultimately claimed that John White taught in an area of certification (English) in Chicago Public Schools, without being an employee of CPS, and without Illinois certification.


    None of the Bayou Brief’s “legal arguments” survived basic scrutiny. For every three or four paragraphs of response by one of their board members, only one paragraph contained actual legal argument, and these were sloppy, lazy, and incorrect. The remainder of the verbiage was hot air and hand waving.

    Of the posts that purported to offer a substantive rationale, it was stated clearly that that person, Clayman Clevenger, a board member and private attorney, was commenting only in his personal capacity, but he adopted and defended the BB claims. The members of the “Editorial Board” did not answer the specific questions raised by their ‘exclusive/editorial,’ nor would they disclose the membership of the board. The Bayou Brief has previously lauded the hire of Ms. Katie Weaver as bringing serious bona fides to the paper, however, she declined to respond to this issue. In a private message, a board member told me that she is merely their spelling and grammar secretary.

    After ample opportunity to provide solid facts and argument in support of their conclusions, the Bayou Brief stands disproven on the record. Their story completely unraveled.

    Finally, the Bayou Brief’s repeated refusals to support their claims with facts, their repeated diversionary and straw-man arguments, and their repeated changes in rationales tend to show a pretext in motive for publishing the piece. I call upon the Bayou Brief to retract its story and issue a prompt apology to Dr. Mercedes Schneider.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. La. BESE Member James Garvey’s School Grading “Lie”: Read His Full Speech Here | deutsch29
  2. La. Supt. John White’s Job Is the Subject of a May 30, 2017, Lawsuit | deutsch29
  3. John White’s Teaching Experience with Chicago Public Schools | deutsch29
  4. Exclusive: Supt. John White’s PRAXIS Test Scores | The Bayou Brief
  5. EXCLUSIVE: John White’s PRAXIS Scores Do Not Equal Five Years of Teaching Experience | deutsch29
  6. La. Supt. John White’s Certification in “English As Part of a Mix of Subjects” (Eh?) | deutsch29
  7. TFAer Rebecca Kockler Leaves Louisiana to Work Her Wonders in Los Angeles | deutsch29
  8. Teach Two Years, Climb Ed Ladder, Score $5M Contract from Brand New RI Gov via Brand New Consulting Firm. | deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider's Blog

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